ESSAYS & SHORT FICTION
Positive thinker I am not. Negative thought producer and worst-case scenario perpetuator, I am. Negativity is a thriving industry in my life. My whole support system is comprised of worriers who think on contingency, covering the bases of every situation making sure to take all the fun out of spontaneity. My friends are worriers. My parents are both worriers. I have eight aunts and three uncles who are all worriers. Even my cat has a nervous twitch. Worry was always my world. Who would bet positive thinking against those odds? I never stood a chance at being the carefree rubber. I was always going to be the analytical glue trying to scrape off sticky cynicism.
I have one positive friend, and she is like an alien to me. When both of us look at a white sheet of paper I see the end of the world and she sees Easter. She recently told me that I have no vision. I’m a negative person, so this wasn’t news to me. I responded by saying, “that’s the problem, let’s do lunch.” Two hours later, over white tablecloths and fine crystal, I asked her how positivity works and if I could become a member. Her answer was simple.
“You have to believe in a universe system where everything evens out.”
“That’s it?” I replied.
“Pretty much,” she said, shoving the last bite of porterhouse steak in her mouth.
Leave it to the positive person to think of the simplest solution while I get stuck with the check.
I thought I already did believe in a universe system where everything evens out. In my universe system, karma follows you through life grading all your choices, and kicking your ass. Have I been following the wrong one? Her universe system was Buddhist and forgiving. It was the belief that all human experience is collapsed from highs and lows into a lateral median where neither our most precious moments nor our darkest hours protrude. Three point five billion wrongs make seven billion rights?
It’s the platform I needed to leave a world that had imparted to me that positivity was presumptuous and impolite. Positivity anticipates that happiness, health, success and true love are to be expected. Who was I to believe that those gifts were rightfully mine? It seemed safe to always expect the worst, so that I could be prepared when it happened. I tried to preserve myself from hurt, but in doing so, I invited the possibility of it, and made sure to look for it in every situation.
As it’s my choice to let disappointment fester, or not, I choose to reject my inherited genes so that I can rebuild new ones for the future. That’s it. I am rewiring my brain to trust that positivity can also be safe, and that good really can exist. Perhaps even potentially for me.
It’s just that I’m scared to say it out loud.